Movies fall into three categories: fantastic, so bad that they are actually good, and the ones that fall far short of your expectations. This is a list of films that fall into the third category.
In this reimagining of the King Arthur Legend, Arthur is a moralistic Roman Calvary officer. This film takes away all the classic elements from the legend and tries to create a grittier and more realistic version. So the narrative focuses on the time period directly after the Roman Empire withdrew from England and the aftermath of this collapse of infrastructure. I am a huge fan of the Arthur Legend, so I was disappointed in this adaption. A film about Arthur needs Merlin, otherwise why bother? The legend has managed to enthrall numerous generations because of its mystical and fantastical elements. At the heart of the story lies a tale about a courageous warrior who rose up to defend his homeland and all the outlandish characters he encounters along the way. Taking away all these elements makes the story rather boring. Also this realistic film contained some mysteriously bloodless fighting sequences. Apparently ancient warriors never bled when slaughtered with swords. Perhaps the greatest injustice is the portrayal of Guinevere. The film tries to turn Guinevere into a Xena Warrior princess type heroine, but at least Xena was fully clothed when fighting. I highly doubt ancient warrior princesses fought in nothing more than a strategically placed leather strap, so much for realism. I am still waiting for a better-than-decent King Arthur movie.
I read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness for my college freshman literature class. Heart of Darkness is a novella detailing Charles Marlow’s experiences as an ivory transporter along the Congo River. This narrative explores themes of alienation, confusion, doubt about imperialism, heroism, and civilized versus “savage” societies. At its most abstract, the narrative deals with the difficulty of understanding a culture outside of our own. The narrative works within this context of the collapse of imperialism in the late 19th Century. Apocalypse Now is an extremely loose adaption of the novella, it borrows a majority of the themes and motifs. However, the movie is a bloated and pompous anti-war narrative set in the 1970s during the Vietnam War. The film would have been better if it had not attempted to take the novella out of its historical context. While imperialism still caused tensions in the 1970s, it does not really work in the context of this film. Conrad’s novella is an excellent exploration into the difficulties of overcoming cultural arrogance. But it really does not translate well when the historical context is radically changed as it was in Apocalypse Now. Also the film has a horrible screenplay and drags in the middle. Which just makes the whole viewing experience twice as excruciating.
I am probably in the minority with this one but Will Ferrell’s brand of humor has never appealed to me. So I am not still not sure how I ended up watching this film, but I regret it to this day. In this movie Ferrell plays an elf named Buddy. Well Buddy is not an elf, he is a human who was stowed away in Santa’s sack as a baby. Now fully grown, Buddy no longer fits in with the elf community and sets out to find his biological father. I will concede that there were two scenes that I thought came close to achieving actual humor, but everything else just fell flat. A grown man running around in tight leggings and acting like a twelve year old is not funny. The script lacks subtlety, nuance, and polish. Ferrell relies upon situational and awkward humor that starts to stale after five minutes. The film relies upon the lowest common denominator of humor. The only Will Ferrell film that I have found remotely humorous was Anchorman. But Ferrell played the straight man and everyone else acted crazy. If Ferrell is playing the straight man then I think he is funny, but his off the wall situational humor is painful to watch.
Any film based off a line of children action figures is going to be either awesome or just bad. And all the Transformer Films are horrible. The first film details the struggle between two Cybertronian (aka robotic) races who bring their struggle to Earth. Where only a clueless teenage holds the power necessary to end the struggle once and for all, or for as long the movies keep making money. I appreciate a well done explosion sequence in action films and Michael Bay delivers with some great pyrotechnics. However, if you peel away all the special effects and fire, the narrative is quite thin. And of the four films in this franchise, the first one possesses the strongest script. Which means all the other installments make up for this deficiency by including even larger explosions. Maybe I just needed to be a teenage guy in order to appreciate this film in all its Megan Fox and CGI glory. Overall, the film is a 144 minutes of bloated graphics and poorly developed characters. The character development is nonexistent, none of the characters are memorable. But, hey, as long as everyone is running from exploding giant robots the actual plot and characterization seems inconsequential.
Actually Episodes I, II, & III are all films I regret watching. While the graphics bring the fictional world to life, a film cannot rely on CGI to advance the plot. Part of the problem with this prequel trilogy is the cringe worthy relationship between Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala. It was cute in the first film, but horrendous in the other two installments. Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman had zero chemistry and the dialogue was beyond clunky. And Jar Jar Binks sunk the franchise to an all new low. The prequel trilogy would have been stronger if it focused more on the relationship between Qui‑Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Both Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson are fantastic actors and their characterization in the films were rather flimsy. Also Qui-Gon Jinn is a much more interesting character than Anakin Skywalker. The most glaring problem lies in the screenplay. There are so many clichéd and simplistic lines that the film is almost unwatchable. There is next to no characterization and any backstory comes via some painful exposition. Parts of the narrative dragged and hampered the flow of the narrative. I think George Lucas had an amazing visions and his original trilogy is an undeniable classic. But screenwriting is not Lucas’ forte and the result is quite painful.